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Whilst cruising a local organic food market I was telling my friend about a film I had seen earlier in the week, [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/before_the_devil_knows_youre_dead/]Before the Devil Knows You?re Dead[/URL]. I told him it was one of the greatest films I had seen in ages and he should go and see it when it is released in Australia next month. I raved about the cast, the script, the set-up, told him about some great retro editing techniques, compared it to [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/killing/]The Killing[/URL] (my all-time favourite heist flick) and talked about the way it messes with chronology. He was intrigued and had that I-must-see-this-film look in his eyes. And then I told him that it was so dark and bleak that I had felt sick for hours afterwards.
It was then that I lost him.
He told me that he wasn't interested in feeling like that. He wanted to see a film that made him feel good and happy afterwards. I disagree. I love feeling happy or inspired after a movie, but I also love it when I feel wretched; destroyed; devastated; weepy; lost; or disheartened.
The other thing that got me thinking this week was Jen Yamato's [URL= http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/1175174-funny_games/news/1710175/]article[/URL] about [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/1083791-funny_games/]Funny Games[/URL] and [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/michael_haneke/]Michale Haneke?s[/URL] planned shot-for-shot remake of his own film. I did not take any pleasure from Funny Games. I thought it brilliant and clever and haunting but I certainly felt no happiness while watching it. And it messed with me for years afterwards. Yet I loved it and can hardly wait for the re-make.
The only thing I don't want to be after watching a movie is un-moved. Cinema is about having another person's story enter your head and rock it around a bit. I don't care how I am moved, so long as I am. I guess movies are like drugs for me. I want to be taken out of my reality and I don't care if there is a come-down at the end. It is worth it.
Obviously, I feel the makings of a top ten list here.
Top Ten Movies that messed with my head but I loved anyway!
62% Funny Games
88% Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
96% The Killing
100% [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/1036630-vanishing/]The Vanishing[/URL] - NOT the remake
78% [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/requiem_for_a_dream/]Requiem for a Dream[/URL]
90% [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/clockwork_orange/]A Clockwork Orange[/URL]
88% [URL=http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/easy_rider/]Easy Rider[/URL]
I love film lists. They give me the freedom to indulge my OCD tendencies, legitimately. For the past two days I have been obsessively shuffling through my dog-eared collection of scrawled-upon post-its as I tried to find the perfect ten films in the perfect order for 2007.
Here is what I've got.
Please note: release dates differ in Australia so some films that I would love to include (Juno!!!) aren?t here because they won?t be released until 2008. Dammit.
4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 Days
This bleak, Romanian tale crept under my skin and set up shop. It is one of those films that lingers, popping into your mind months after you have seen it. It follows one truly harrowing day in the life of two students as one seeks an abortion and the other goes to extraordinary lengths to help her. Writer/Director Cristian Mungiu's inert, one-take scenes made me feel like the voyeur in the room. I know I have painted a rather ghastly picture of this film but I can?t recommend it highly enough. The acts of friendship are some of the most human and touching moments on celluloid this year. But it will depress the hell out of you all the same. Make sure you watch it when you have an hour or two to spare afterwards. You will need a little lie down.
No Country for Old Men
I have a confession to make. Until two hours ago, I had not seen this film and I was holding off writing this list until I did. From everything I had read and heard about the Coen brothers? adaptation of Cormac McCarthy?s novel, I knew it would be a mistake to try to write a top ten list for the year without including it. It doesn?t officially open in Australia for another week and due to a series of misadventures I had missed every pre-screening. I managed to get myself into a preview today and I am so glad I did. This is, in my opinion, the Coen brothers? best. Much has been written about the ending so I was preparing myself to be disappointed by what many critics have called a failing of the film. I was far from disappointed. Rather, I thought it nothing short of masterful.
There are many things about this movie that worked but for me the most powerful was the representation of the mafia. It wasn?t glamorised nor was every individual demonised. Rather, there was a great humanity in the portrayal. In typical Cronenberg stye, there were moments that had me squeezing my eyes shut against the brutality but in general, I was captivated. The female characters were a little brittle and light on substance, but that aside, I thought it a very rich film.
Loyalty to the John Waters original put me off seeing this confection. Foolish! I loved it. It retained Water?s vision of societal perversion, cast a feel-good glow over the entire city of Baltimore and set it all to music! Integration now!
By the power of Greyskull this film was a cracker. I worship at the alter of Wright (Edgar...Director/Co-Writer), Pegg (Simon... Sgt Angel/other Co-Writer) and Frost (Nick...PC Butterman) so I was probably going to include this film whether I liked it or not. Thankfully I loved it. It is no Shaun of the Dead, that groundbreaking rom-com-zom number, but it is hard to top a romantic-comedy-zombie movie. If you love this, and you will, make sure you check out where it all began - the British television series, Spaced.
OK, I am just going to come out and say this. I am not a huge animation fan. I know that puts me in the minority as far as film geekdom goes, but I just don?t get that emotionally involved. Normally. First came Toy Story. I was blown away but assumed it must have been a fluke. And then came that skit about the fish. I rushed out and bought it the moment it became available. But surely, I thought, lightening can?t strike three times in the same place. But it did! Ratatouille rocked my world. First of all, I am a foodie. The only thing I love more than cooking is watching movies about cooking so this film won me over from the get-go. And secondly, there is a speech in there about the role of the critic that moved me deeply.
A heartbreaking story of alienation and cruelty. There is nothing particularly new here, but rather a stark reminder of the prickly demons that so often haunt genius. I loved his music but my heart breaks for those who loved him. Love will tear us apart. Sigh.
Notes on a Scandal
There is nothing I love more than being totally messed with by a movie. I like to be tossed around, manipulated, made to squirm and then spat out the other end. Two of the screen?s most sophisticated babes, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, are seriously disturbing in this twisted tale. Every time you think you have a grip on which characters you like, another shade of grey casts a pallor over the landscape. Chilling.
A great Australian film. This story of slaughter in the suburbs is raw but beautifully shot. The pacing is a little slow but it is a tremendous example of how powerful characterisation can lift a small, first film into cinematic greatness. Hunt this film out. It is absolutely worth it.
Die Hard 4.0
Yeah, its a bit of a rubbish film but I have a passion for John McClane that knows no bounds. And I really like big bangs, explosions and Bruce Willis? rippling, dry wit. Yippi-kay-ay!
Today I developed a new crush.
I had the oportunity to interview him today and he was funny, sincere (in that...you are the 33rd person I am speaking to today but I am going to make you feel like the special one), touching, engaging, clever, sweet and DIVINE.
I have a few thoughts here:
1. perhaps I am genetically predisposed to fancying Jewish boys after all;
2. maybe I am not as impervious as I thought to movie stars, writers, musicians, Coppolas and ridiculously good-looking spunk-rats; and
3. I seem to have walked away with an eyebrow fetish. Seriously. He has amazingly good eyebrows.
I enjoyed The Darjeeling Limited. I certianly haven't stopped pondering aspects of it and it makes me want to go on a roadtrip with my sister.
This is not a review so I won't go too deeply into the film. This is simply the crush category of my journal so imagine this as the textual equivalent of a great big lipstick kiss on a poster of JS on my wall.
I heart Jason.
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I was stuck in bed all weekend with a heavy cold so obviously I spent my time watching movies!
I didn't get through as many as I would have liked because I kept falling asleep but I did manage to watch a pretty interesting mix.
Directed: Wes Anderson
Written: Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Starring: Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray
I haven't seen Rushmore since it was first released but I enjoyed it as much this time around as I did then. Possibly even more because I may be over medicating with the cold and flu tablets. I was inspired to watch it because I saw Darjeeling Limited on Friday and this was the last time Jason Schwartzman acted in a Wes Anderson film. For a first film, Schwartzman was astounding. Even as a 17 year old he had a strong screen presence. Murray, however, is just electric. The relationship between the two defies every convention and yet is entirely believable in the film's universe. I giggled happily throughout.
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Directed: David O. Russell
Written: David O. Russell and Jeff Baena
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, Namoi Watts
I was a little less inspired by the one. I like an existential comedy as much as the next girl but I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. It was all just a little too 'quirky' for me to get a grip on. I do find it very funny in parts and it is a pretty clever poke at philosophy, therapy and self-analysis. I loved loved loved Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman as the existential detectives. Their ridiculous and totally unsubtle sneaking around offered some priceless physical humour. There is a scene where Tomlin dives into the back of a car that made me giggle every time I thought of it for the rest of the day. While I did feel a bit disengaged from the film, I do think it has good performances and an interesting script. I just kind of wanted to hit them all in the face with a balloon. A lot.
Down with Love (2003)
Directed: Peyton Reed
Written: Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Tony Randall
This is one of those movies that isn't a musical but really should be. I have a crush on Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger so it is a great film for me to watch! It captures the feel of the romantic comedies of the late 50s and early to mid 60s and has a bit of a play with the politics to boot. While I generally despise re-makes as a rule (why do it when there are so many talented writers around with fresh ideas), I adore films that are referential to a genre or period. And this one does it so lovingly. Just don't expect too much from it. I love the frocks. I love the apartments, I love that Tony Randall made an appearance and I love that it reminded me that I haven't watched Funny Face in a really long time and that I should. Immediately.
Funny Face (1957)
Directed: Stanley Donen
Written: Leonard Gershe
Starring: Audrey Hepburn Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson
Oh Audrey...how I love you. This really is a musical and is just the sort of froth and bubble a girl with a cold slumped in a sea of scrunched up tissues needs! Don't pay too much attention to the politics because they really aren't good: bookish girls with intellectual desires can be cured by a good man with engagement ring in his pocket...harrumph. That aside, it is gorgeous. Audrey is lithe and divine and has some pretty funky dance moves. Fred has a few moves himself and is frightfully dapper. My favourite part of the film, however, belongs to Kay Thompson as the fashion mag editor diva. Her 'Think Pink' scene is one of my sound screen favourites.
Drop Dead Fred (1991)
Directed: Ate de Jong
Writers: Elizabeth Livingstone and Carlos Davus
Starring: Phoebe Cates, Rik Mayall and Carrie Fisher
After all the comedy I felt I needed a bit of a cry so I pulled out Drop Dead Fred. I know that to the rest of the world Drop Dead Fred is a slapstick comedy, a fairly obscure, not always that funny, slapstick comedy but to me, it is just heart breaking. I cry from beginning to end. I have no idea what I am publicly revealing about my psyche by writing that but it touches me. A story about children so isolated and misunderstood that imaginary friends have to come and protect them; imaginary friends that are cruelly and heartlessly taken away... I am getting all emotional again. I love it. It's not for everyone.
And then I turned to my trusty Buffy DVDs.
I apologise for the somewhat shallow analysis of these films but I am pretty snuffly and somewhat stupider than normal.
Thank goodness for soup and lovingly assembled DVD collections!!!
I have recently started work as the Australian editor for Rotten Tomatoes, and quite frankly, I think all my Hanukkahs have come at once.
I get to spend my days devouring movie reviews, thinking movies, watching movies and talking to people who make movies. And they pay me to do it!
I also work with an amazing team. Two teams actually. In Sydney, there are the very gorgeous IGN.com boys and the super spiffy MySpace brigade. On the other hand I work with the global Tomatoes. I flew to LA recently to meet the guys from LA, San Fran and London and I couldn't have been happier. Not only did we plot our cunning plans for world domination, but we also ate Sprinkles cupcakes! Who knew that red velvet was a flavour?
RT is coming down under and I will keep you up to date on what changes are happening to accommodate the demands of a movie-loving sunburnt country.
And in the meantime, I'll see you on the vine!